Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Pacific Rim

PACIFICRIM_3DCOMBO_2D

Pacific Rim Blu Ray Edition

Synopsis:
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Review:
Many have compared this film to Transformers on first glance alone. But other than some giant robots, there really isn’t much to compare. Pacific Rim has more depth (no pun intended) and is darker, edgier and certainly more suspenseful. The invading Kaiju are monstrous, Godzilla-like creatures that come through a portal within the Earth. Earth unites and creates enormous robots that take a two-man team to pilot. This works for a while, but the Kaiju are adapting and becoming stronger and smarter.

Pacific Rim is an action-packed, science fiction disaster film – with a looming global apocalypse. Yet it also has just the right amount of heart and humor to balance the suspense. This is a surprisingly fun and visually stunning film with amazing CGI. The Jaeger robots and Kaiju are just as much characters in the story as the actors’ roles.

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack Special Features:
• Audio Commentary by Guillermo del Toro
• The Directors Notebook
• Drift Space
• The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim
• The Shatterdome
• Focus Points
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel

2-Disc Standard Definition DVD Special Edition Special Features:
• Audio Commentary by Guillermo del Toro
• Drift Space
• The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim
• The Shatterdome
• Focus Points
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel

Exclusive Hot Men of Pacific Rim Photo Gallery:

Blu Ray Review: World War Z

wwz

World War Z (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

World War Z stars Brad Pitt and is (loosely) based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks. Pitt plays a former United Nations investigator who hunts down a solution to the sudden zombie plague wreaking havoc across the world.

The first thirty minutes of the film had me on the edge of my seat, cringing and wondering how the rating was only PG-13 instead of R. It’s very intense with heart-pounding suspense and chase scenes. Though, unlike other zombie movies, the focus isn’t gore. Which is good as these zombies are FAST. And they can turn others within seconds of biting.

I had few expectations going in, other than knowing it was nothing like the book. So I was pleasantly surprised with the solid characters and story. The acting is outstanding. They did a good job making us care about the characters while so much is going on. World War Z is a global apocalypse meets zombie thriller.

WORLD WAR Z Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
• Origins—The filmmakers discuss collaborating with renowned actor/producer Brad Pitt to create a Zombie film the likes of which have never been seen.
• Looking to Science—Explore the scientific realities of Zombie behavior in nature and learn more about Zombies in literature and film.
• WWZ: Production
– Outbreak—Go on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s breathtaking first attack in Philadelphia.

– The Journey Begins—Delve deeper into Gerry’s fight for survival during the dramatic escape in South Korea.
– Behind The Wall—Explore the epic scene in Jerusalem and discover the incredible logistics of creating the elaborate stunts and crowd sequences.
– Camouflage—Experience the final confrontation between Gerry and the Zombies and discover the phenomenal scope of the film’s production.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

Blu Ray Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darkness Combo

Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

Synopsis:
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS features an outstanding ensemble cast including John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin.

Review (First few paragraphs previously posted for theater review):
Four years have passed since JJ Abrams’ last Star Trek film. And it was well worth the wait. Diehard Trek fans as well as new fans to the franchise will enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed adventure. Those familiar with the original series will, of course, catch more clues and references to the impending story and correlation to the alternate version. And this super-fan was not disappointed in the least. My one complaint is that Abrams could stand to tone down the lens flares during the bridge scenes.

Full of intense fight scenes, drama, suspense, intrigue, and plenty of humor, Star Trek Into Darkness is an excellent sequel. And while I loved the story, the strong point for the film is the characters. We had the backstory and groundwork set in the previous film, and here we see the characters grow and their relationships develop. The cast and acting is spot-on, once again. Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), and Simon Pegg (Scotty) have great, central roles in this film. I wish Karl Urban (Bones) had more screen time. I think he’s fantastic. And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant in his complex, villainous role.

While some of the big mystery reveals were a bit predictable, especially to fans who may have heard spoilers, I think it served as a respectable homage. I only hope we don’t have to wait another four years to see another installment. But with Abrams focusing on Star Wars next, Star Trek will need to pass on to another director for that to happen. A strong foundation has been laid here with this alternate crew with limitless possibilities for new stories and adventures, whether it be more films, tv, or novels. Don’t miss this exciting sequel.

The blu-ray edition contains some great behind the scenes featurettes on the making of the film’s various incredible scenes. And the last one is just an advertisement, though a good cause. I only wish there were some deleted scenes and/or outtakes.

Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition

• Creating the Red Planet – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.

• Attack on Starfleet – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.

• The Klingon Home World – Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.

• The Enemy of My Enemy – Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.

• Ship to Ship – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.

• Brawl by the Bay – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.

• Continuing the Mission – An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition

Star Trek Into Darkness comes to Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand Sept 10th, arrives on digital August 20th

Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2


Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc August 20 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before the events of Star Trek®: The Original Series. Set in the 22nd century, in a time when interstellar travel is still in its infancy, ENTERPRISE follows Captain Archer and his crew of brave explorers as they set out to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft and experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Review:
Picking up after the season 1 cliffhanger finale, “Shockwave, Part II” where Captain Archer is stuck hundreds of years in the future. My favorite stories from Enterprise involve time travel, the Temporal Cold War, and the beginnings of Section 31. And I was one of the theme song haters at first, but by this season I had come to appreciate “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as it just fit the theme of the show. It really had a great cast and great storylines, up until the arguable Xindi debacle. This season had some great episodes – first contact with alien races, “Carbon Creek”, and “Regeneration” (with the Borg). Unlike the other Star Trek series, this ship is full of inexperienced and optimistic crew members who are on the front lines of space exploration. Every experience is new and exciting for them. The addition of the featurettes makse this a must for any Enterprise fan. Brannon Braga hosts a fun, new cast reunion – “In Conversation: The First Crew” as the cast shares memories and stories from the set.

Disc One: Continue reading Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2

Blu Ray Review: Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The fabled siblings are all grown up and hell-bent on tracking and killing witches wherever they hide in the no-holds-barred epic of modern action and adventure HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, taking flight on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and On Demand June 11, 2013 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS stars Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Thomas Mann, and Peter Stormare. Written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the film earned more than $200 million at the global box office and a sequel is in development. The movie tells the story of the brother and sister team seeking to avenge their parents’ deaths. But after a lifetime of hunting witches, Hansel and Gretel now must face an evil greater than anything they’ve seen: a terrifying new threat so massive, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Review:
As the synopsis states, this is a grown-up Hansel & Gretel. Having killed the witch who tried to eat them as children, the siblings begin making witch-hunting their job traveling from town to town ridding the land of the dark evil with considerable skill and clever gadgets. This steampunk, adult fairy tale is as dark and gruesome as it is smart and funny. Think Van Helsing meets Underworld.

While the over-the-top violence was a bit much for my taste, it was rounded out by plenty of humor. And the though a bit predictable, the acting was solid. I especially loved Jeremy Renner’s understated performance, as well as Famke Janssen’s evil witch persona. This fun, action-packed adventure is packed with suspense, mystery, romance, and excitement. I like that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a mindless action flick with entertaining characters and a fresh take on a well-known fairy tale.

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
• Reinventing Hansel & Gretel
• The Witching Hours
• Meet Edward the Troll

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

Blu Ray Spotlight: Mad Max Trilogy

Mad Max Trilogy Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The three films – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max Road Warrior (1982) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – are all set in the near-future in Australia. From the very first film, Oscar® winner George Miller (Happy Feet, 2006) proved a master at creating the gritty, bleak dystopian world and staging the incredible car stunts and crashes in the era when stuntmen, not computers, achieved the effects. All three movies starred Mel Gibson, virtually unknown until after the second film, as Max Rockatansky, a highway cop traveling through the Outback in a society descending into chaos. The films started Gibson on his road to international superstardom, led to his signature Lethal Weapon series, and later two Academy Awards® for his roles as producer and director of Braveheart (1995).

Mad Max:
A vengeful Australian policeman sets out to avenge his partner, his wife, and his son whom were murdered by a motorcycle gang in retaliation for the death of their leader.

Mad Max Road Warrior:
In the post-apocolyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline-rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
A former Australian policeman is rescued by a tribe of children when he is banished from a desert town and sent into the desert to die by the desert town’s evil queen.

The blu ray set is packaged in a collector’s tin with separate cover art. It’s a great addition to any classic scifi fan’s movie library. The films look great in HD, though I’m not sure the sound was remastered. The action and car chase scenes are loud and clear, but the dialog is hard to understand. And no, it’s not the Australian accents. Besides having to turn up/down the volume constantly, I really enjoyed revisiting these cult classic action films.

Blu-Ray Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download 5/14

Synopsis:
From acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, the powerful and inspiring epic drama “Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future.

Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Review:
The film jumps around six different stories in six different time periods. In 1849, a dying lawyer discovers an escaped, stowaway slave in his cabin. In 1936, young composer gets the chance of a lifetime working with an aging, famous composer. In 1973, a journalist gets wrapped up in dangerous corporate espionage. In 2012, a publisher finds himself locked up in a nursing home against his will. In 2144 Korea, a clone restaurant server dreams of something more than her life as a slave. And in the far distant future, a tribesman deals with an inner demon while escorting a woman to the forbidden mountains. Eventually, the stories begin weaving together with the message that “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” And the point is further pushed as the same actors play a variety of roles across each time period’s story. Most are easy to point out, despite the makeup. And in the end credits, each actor is shown in each role they had.

I haven’t read the book, so the story was new to me – other than the reviews from friends of mine. I had low expectations, hearing it was an over-done artsy film. But I was surprised by the power and drama of each story – moving and poignant. The acting was phenomenal. The music was enchanting. And the cinematography and special effects were stunning. The movie does drag at times though, and at almost three hours runtime became tiresome. Quite a bit could have been cut out and still had the same effect. While it’s a visually striking film, it was also emotionally draining. I don’t think that I would watch it again without skipping through a lot. But I’m glad I finally watched this epic fantasy. Most reviewers used the word “ambitious” when describing Cloud Atlas. I agree.

Blu-ray and DVD Elements:
Cloud Atlas Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other
• Everything is Connected
• The Impossible Adaptation
• The Essence of Acting
• Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets
• The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas
• Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life, and Longing in Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other

SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE THIRD SEASON is a 6-disc collection featuring all 26 episodes of the third season. Continuing to follow the remarkable voyages of the Starship Enterprise, the third season includes some of the most celebrated episodes in Star Trek canon.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Blu-ray features a seamlessly edited, one-part, feature length presentation of the classic two-part cliffhanger. In this fan favorite episode, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is captured and assimilated by the Borg. Available in high-definition for the first time ever, a centerpiece to the release is a newly-produced featurette entitled “Regeneration: Engaging the Borg.” Offering fans an in-depth exploration into the creation of The Next Generation’s most iconic villains, along with the making of the episode, the exclusive featurette includes all-new interviews with the show’s production staff, visual effects artists, writers, and cast as they reveal the challenges faced in producing one of the most technically complex episodes of the series. Plus the set includes an exclusive gag reel and all-new commentary with technical consultants Mike and Denise Okuda, actor Elizabeth Dennehy and director Cliff Bole.

Review:
Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favorite television series from the time it aired. And season three had some of the best episodes such as: The Most Toys, Deja Q, Yesterday’s Enterprise, and The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1 to name just a few. By now, the crew has formed a noticeable camaraderie. This is science fiction at its finest with unique characters, exceptional stories, and great special effects for its time. I loved experiencing these adventures again, restored on blu ray. I received this season for review, but enjoyed so much that I had to go out and buy the previous seasons on blu ray as well. My favorite new addition was the featurette “Inside The Writer’s Room” moderated by Seth MacFarlane. And of course, I can’t get enough of gag reels.

Continue reading SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds